Stop Quoting Mandela to Silence Africans

September 12, 2015 § 1 Comment

Racists who don’t value the lives of Africans love to quote Mandela and other famous black people, in weak attempts to silence and invalidate Africans who get too radical for their liking. They take the words of historical African figures out of context, twist or otherwise manipulate them to try and win an argument. To support their baseless arguments, racists will typically barge into my conversations with cut-and-pastes from Wikipedia of quotes that don’t even apply to the situation.

And they do so with the expectation that I bow down at the mere mention of lionized figures such as Mandela. A figure who, in death, whites can sanitize to suit their interests, while conveniently ignoring the fact that Mandela was a militant who literally blew things up in his fight against oppression.

Mandela may have been the most famous African of his time, but that doesn’t mean that non-famous Africans are obligated to obey and agree with his thoughts. This may come as a surprise but we are allowed to disagree with Madiba.

As a Kenyan woman living in 2015, my perspective derives from my experience of my world, which is quite different from Mandela’s experience of South Africa during apartheid. That doesn’t mean that I don’t value the words and actions of Mandela or any other African freedom fighter. I most certainly do.

However, like every other African, I am under no obligation to place the words of Mandela above my own understanding and experience of the world. I personally value Mandela’s words and actions in the ways that they align with my freedom and the freedom of all Africans, now and today. But I will also respectfully reject them when they don’t.

I am not Mandela. I am me. I am but one of a billion African people, each with their own feelings, thoughts, beliefs and ideals.

The time racists spend searching for some Mandela quote to use to try and silence Africans could have been better spent on educating themselves on the fact that African people are individual autonomous beings, with all sorts of ideas of our own. Our words are equally important to those of the Africans whose names we are expected to fall in line at the mere mention of.

Therefore, if someone wishes to share a quote because they think I might find it interesting, helpful or poignant, that’s fine. But if they’re simply throwing quotes at me with the expectation that I bow down to them and the African figures they imagine know more about my experiences in the world than I do – they can forget it.

I can think and speak for myself.

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